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Tremont Island History Comes Alive


"Tidds Island: a History of its People and Their Stories" was published in July of 2009, and was written by Tremont Island cottagers.

Special feature for TI Life

Listen to: Tremont Island History Comes Alive

Presented by Jan Eliot of Voice Over Services

Peter Murray, who came to Tidds in 1929, wrote in the introduction, “Young people are often not interested in ‘the good old days’, until they realize, as time goes on, that ‘their’ history can be interesting, and that they will soon become part of it.”

Peter and his team of Bill Gardian, Steve Hornsby, Bruce Chick and Harry McAdie began capturing the island's history in 2004 and the next five years were spent updating, editing, and verifying information from interviews and documents at the Township Registry office.

The soft-cover book has histories of 33 residential properties. The history provides ownership information for each lot as well as a review of the archaeology, geology and botany of Tremont Island, which is situated directly in front of Gananoque in the Admiralty group. There is also a history of properties on nearby Apohaqui, and Donavan Islands.

Thousand Islands Life is pleased to provide a paragraph from several histories. If you would like to read the book, visit the Gananoque Library. Although originally printed only for residents, the publishing team has had many requests and are now taking orders. "Tidd’s Island: a History of its People and Their Stories" can be ordered through Peter Murray pmurray5@cogeco.ca for $30.00 (CA) plus shipping and handling.

Paragraph excerpts: (We wish we had more room…)

David Palmer “Summers in the Thousand Islands, A Tremont Retrospective...World War II was winding down the summer o f’45, and in August, V- J Day was declared. On that very day, I was taking my mother and six year old sister, Diantha, to town in our outboard when a single engine plane flying erratically at about fifteen feet above the water approached with what I perceived to be malicious intent. I announced to my passengers that I didn’t like the looks of things and thought it best to turn around and return to Tremont, about 100 yards away. Of course, by the time the plane was upon us and it veered up and passed overhead I could see the pilot and a companions laughing at us. Fearing that they might take another pass, I kept on course for Tremont at a speed of what felt like two miles an hours. But they had moved on to other places. I later found out from a source in town that they were celebrating the end of the War and had let it get a bit out of hand….

Sylvia and Bill Dixon, Property #24. . . Nineteen seventy-seven was just our first summer of memoires, fun and activities. Ross and John joined with other kids (Taylors, Nugents, Brennans, Tweedies, who roamed around from dock to dock, cottage to cottage into the woods,( and tree houses), and over to Saul’s rock. Summer Olympics with medals, and treasure hunts organized by the Hillis family were eagerly anticipated. On rainy days craft activities created Kleenex headed dolls, Amy Taylor’s specialty, plastic laced bracelets and key chains, spool knitted yards of wool and crayon or paint pictures later sold to Friots, Claire Murray and the Sauls for 1 Cent, 3 Cents and 5 Cents. I found recently the kids accounting records!

Tim and Peggy Adair, Property #34. . . The Reverend Pringle built, in about 1939/40, a Halliday “prefab” cottage. A new building concept at the time, with log type siding. . . Reverend Pringle, the Anglican rural Dean on the Mohawk reservation in Deseronto, was an amateur artist, and there are a number of his paintings on the island owned by cottagers of that time….

Thornley and Susan Stoker, Property #50. . . Shortly after Susan and I moved to Kingston from Toronto in 1986 we were in the fortunate position of being able to look for island property. This I understood to mean we would look on all of the 1000 Islands. I soon discovered there was only one island that was acceptable. Susan knew that C.K. and Jean McKenzie’s house had been virtually abandoned for several years and believed that it would be ideal. We bought Mull Cottage in October 1988 and have spent the rest of our lives, so far, happily fixing, renovating and preserving as best we could…

Judy Smith Hillis, Property #62. . . My grandfather Charles Wright used to row a skiff home for lunch. Either he was a very fast rower, or he took a long lunch break. My mother Chrissy (Wright) Smith and her sister, Norma (Wright) Westcott, inherited the “Red” and the sister Hazel (Wright) McKenzie, inherited the original cottage (#1), which she later sold and bought what is now the Stoker cottage. The McKenzies planted all the evergreens on the north-west end of the island.

Bruce and Eileen Chick, Property #70.. By Bruce Chick Jr....When I as about 11 yrs old my father gave me an old wooden cedar strip boat with a 3 HP “Viking” motor on it. Bruce Murray had a green wooden boat with a 1 ½ HP Evinrude on it. Bright and early each day, we would meet at the dock in our boats and just head out into the river, usually with no real plan of where we were headed. We just went wherever it looked interesting… I remember one time having the 3 HP in several pieces on a back yard table meticulously cleaning each part. My father in complete shock asked me whether I could put it back together. I said “sure” not really knowing whether I could or not. Back then my theory was that if all the parts were clean, the motor would just run better. In those days “better” always meant faster. I just made sure I remembered what order I took the parts apart and reversed the order. It always seemed to work. Bruce and I would eventually “trade up” to Mercury 0.8 HP outboard which gave us the ability to explore the islands from Bostwick to the 1000 Islands Bridge. Bruch Chick, Jr.

Laurel Chick, Property #70 … I remember… Swimming at Leek Island; filling up on raspberries while walking around the island; not wearing shoes all summer unless you had to go to town.

Peter and Nancy Murry, Property #76. . . From crawling around under the building, it is apparent that much of the lumber used in construction was salvaged from the building firm of Mitchell and Wilson, which my Grandfather owned. If a sill was too short, they merely spliced on a piece to make it fit. ...

Bob and Eileen Hawkins, Property #109. . . I watched jack Saul come out of his cottage and he waved and went close to the river and started hammering something. I stood up to have look and it was a FOR SALE sign… As I absorbed this information, the telephone ran and it was brother from Oakville. He invoked that my father, who had won a lottery a month earlier, had decided to give each of his children a cash gift. He wanted us to know right away in case we would want to change our plans to sell the cottage. I could barely contain my excitement and could hardly wait for the family to rise so that I could walk up the hill and buy a new cottage… Telephone answering machines and e-mail did not exist, so we waited frantically for a call from the Sauls. We had returned to Oakville when Jack called and he was thrilled that we wanted his cottage. Bob and I made a trip to his home in Toronto and closed the deal in record time. We took possession in the fall and the whole family went for Thanksgiving. …

Richard and Annastasia Cliffe, Property #157. . . The Lauries were Salvation Army people from New York who used the property as a retreat house to rehabilitate alcoholics brought from the Bowery. The site had a main cottage, a cook house and a boathouse. The captain and his wife lived in the main cottage with a sleeping loft assessable by a vertical ladder. They prepared the Lauries meals in the small cook house and served them in the main cottage. It should be noted that the number of empty whisky bottles found under the captains study when it was torn down in the mid 1970s, leads us to believe that their rehabilitation program was less than successful…

There are more stories, and more than… photographs. On behalf of all of us who summer in the islands… please take Peter Murray’s suggestion, “We hope you enjoy reading the products of our efforts. Add to them as time goes on, so that your children and grandchildren may have some conception of “their island” in the years to come.

Compiled by Susan W. Smith susan@thousandislandslife.com

Posted in: History, Places
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